Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Thursday, October 15, 2015
What Thou Wouldst Have Us Do
I write this post on a computer laptop, in my post-World War II apartment in the Chicago suburbs, sprinkled with a few late-20th and -21st century contrivances. (Moreover, I am certain there are people living in my area who pride themselves on being up to the minute, in terms of the latest technological devices.) The Oxford Book of Prayer? So many of my contemporaries in the Chicago area are so not on this particular wavelength. Some would wonder why on earth I was reading such an esoteric, paper-bound book.
Yet—the words of the prayer I chose for today seem to me to be timeless, whether we are talking about the 1st century, or the 21st. This prayer by William Bright (1824-1901) in Ancient Collects concerns “As It Is In Heaven.” (Prayer 286, page 93)  Today’s prayer is about Guidance.
O God! You are so willing to guide us, to dispense Your light on any who ask of You! Yet, my way seems so dark, so often. Gracious God, I ought to remember Your generous offer much more frequently than I actually experience it.
Now, here is the real request and action-word of this collect. (Not to mention, my doubts and uncertainties … dear Lord, that’s my low self-esteem rearing its ugly head once again.) Grant us—grant me!!—grace to ask You what it is that You would have me to do! I remind myself not to go haring off on some wild goose chase, or to summarily ask You to rubber-stamp something I’ve cooked up on my own.
Ah, the Spirit of Wisdom. I am not as familiar with that as I ought to be, Lord. Yes, Wisdom is mentioned in some detail in Proverbs, and I pored over those chapters some years ago. But—that was some years ago. My first inclination is to say, “Forgive me for not staying current.” But then, I remember You understand me better than I do myself.
God, this collect asks that You “save us from all false choices.” (!!!) That phrase, alone, is a worthy prayer! That phrase, alone, is something for me to take, chew upon, ruminate over, and thoroughly pray to You. And, lastly, perhaps my favorite phrase of this whole prayer: that “in Thy straight path [we] may not stumble.” Ah, especially in my circuitous paths and mental meanderings, I so need the reminder of Your straight path.
I fall at Your feet, in a humble tumble, gracious God. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we earnestly pray.
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 The Oxford Book of Prayer, edited by George Appleton. (New York: Oxford University Press, reissued 2009), 93.